Why Can’t You Motivate Employees?
One of the biggest leadership challenges is learning how to motivate employees. Motivated employees generally work harder with greater resolve to do a good job. Some employees always seem to be motivated while always lack motivation. They lack desire to do anything more than the bare minimum for one reason or another. All their reasons, however, are just excuses because they lack motivation.
In the leadership world, there are many theories about motivation. There is also constant discussion about what it takes to motivate employees and why you can or can’t motivate employees.
So what exactly is motivation?
Motivation is the process of arousing and sustaining goal-directed behavior.
As a leader, it is sometimes possible to motivate employees through creating incentives for good work because some people are motivated by outside sources. There are, however, others that are motivated from within.
Theories to Motivate Employees
Internal Motivation Theories – These theories of motivation give primary consideration to variables within the individual that give rise to motivation and behavior. These theories focus on the needs of the individual.
Process Motivation Theories – These theories of motivation emphasize the nature of the interaction between the individual and the environment.
External Motivation Theories – These theories of motivation focus on the elements in the environment.
As a leader, it is important that you learn what it takes to motivate employees. Even though there are a number of motivation theories, what you do to motivate employees has an impact on those you lead. What you do to motivate employees will either motivate or demotivate those you lead.
A Story of Motivation
I heard an motivation experience recently that impacted me. A friend of mine, we’ll call John, that is a great leader was assigned to be the leader over a person, we’ll call Jason, that was inherently demotivated. He was in and out of trouble because of his performance. Jason had a reputation of being lazy, taking extra long breaks, and only doing the bear minimum to avoid getting fired. He got into a pattern of a poor performance review and then a good one, then a poor one, etc. He continued with this pattern for many years.
In order to fully understand the employee, you must understand his background. Jason was an employee that was very good and experienced at what he did. He had also done his same job for many years and didn’t have any career advancement goals. Jason found that at times he got very bored because he did the same thing all the time.
When John took over as Jason’s leader, John knew Jason’s reputation and background. John had concerns about being Jason’s leader. John wanted to be a great leader by helping Jason succeed. Shortly after becoming the leader, John got a special project. The special project involved thinking outside the normal routine of projects. John decided to assign the new project to Jason.
Shortly after Jason began his new project, John, as well as the management team, saw an interesting phenomena. Jason all of a sudden had a new desire to work. He was on top of his work all the time, and he worked hard. He also stopped taking long breaks and was always on time. He even stayed late when needed without requesting overtime pay.
Well, the special project lasted two years and during the entire project Jason was a golden employee. Once the project was over, however, he reverted back to his old ways. He was then the same old employee that he had always been. Ultimately, the change in environment and project type gave Jason a new-found motivation to do his job.
As a leader, there are only a limited number of things you can do to help people be motivated. The book 180 Ways To Walk The Motivation Talk gives a number of ways to help people be motivated. It also gives great examples of things you can do as a leader to motivate employees.
What have you done to motivate employees? How are they staying motivated based on your leadership approach? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!